By Chris Metcalf
No surprise as they have enjoyed two sectional titles in the past four years, and they are hungry for more.
Head coach Brian Stout’s Blue Devils are back on the hardwood this winter after last year’s sensational 17-7 season which included a No. 2 seed in the Class D tourney while beating No. 1 Jasper-Troupsburg 70-56 for the title.
This season, for the first time in 50 years, the Blue Devils will bump up to Class C.
Stout (152-134) has done an outstanding job as he enters his 14th season at Mount Morris, fresh off the program’s title last year while also earning the sectional block in 2019, their first in nearly 30 years.
Incredibly, this season Stout and company could be even stronger as they return a bulk of last year’s team including 6-foot-3 senior center Mason Santini (9.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg), 5-foot-8 senior point-guard Chase Young (4.5 ppg 3 spg, 3 apg), 5-foot-10 senior guard Bryson Constantino (10.4 ppg), 5-foot-10 senior forward Aidan Stanley (3 ppg), 5-foot-8 senior guard Owen Yencer (2.5 ppg), and 5-foot-10 junior forward Anthony Hightower (4.1 ppg, 3 rpg).
Santini and Young are a dangerous inside-outside combo while Constantino can fill it up from the perimeter after knocking down 66, three-pointers a year ago. He is just 10 trifectas away from the MMCS all-time mark set by Devon Milford.
Top Newcomers include 5-foot-7 junior guard Luis Crespo and 5-foot-4 junior guard Matt Bacon.
“We were very deep last year running 10 guys in every game, leading to a sectional championship,” said coach Stout. “We return six of those players and we have four seniors who are in their fourth year of varsity basketball with Santini, Constantino, Young, and Yencer. When you look at the stats, rotating 10 guys, they give up a lot of the individual stats with shared minutes for wins. This year’s rotation will be cut down though.”
Stout has high expectations for Santini and Young this season.
Santini had a huge performance in the finals with 14 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots.
“Last year Santini at the end of the season started to be a huge presence in the paint,” he said. “Young is one of the top on-the-ball defenders I have ever coached, right up there with the names of Stephen Soto, Bryan Rollins, Mo Carlin, and his brother Collin Young. This off-season he added another element to his defense as he was taking a couple of charges per game.”
Stout’s also excited about the others.
“Constantino can stretch the defense while Hightower was a late-season JV call-up and had four, 40-point games on the JV and we had to bring him up where he was an instant impact on the offensive and defensive end,” Stout said. “In his first varsity game, he had eight points, nine rebounds and four assists. Stanley is a solid rebounder/slasher and hit one of the biggest shots of the year, hitting a three to stop J-T’s 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter at the Blue Cross. Crespo is a very good shooter with a motor that never stops. In an off-season game vs Attica, as a smaller guard, he had 12 points off of six offensive rebounds against their huge front line. Bacon is a very good defender, who loves to take charges.”
Stout feels like this year’s squad has the ability and will to make another run.
“We are hoping to compete for a league and a Class C championship,” he said.
Joining Mount Morris this winter in the Class C3 bracket will be Notre Dame, CG Finney and Northstar Christian Academy.
But this Blue Devil squad can compete with the best of them.